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Fairy Tale Ride, Part 3

December 29, 2011

Part III: Tunnel Rat

Pedaling and pedaling. Faster and faster. How could Grimm have gotten so far ahead of them, Bug thought. His breath was quick and shallow as he approached the wreckage. Grimm was sprawled out, his Surly bike pinning him awkwardly to the ground. Grimm was motionless with his eyes fixed to his left. Bug slowly turned his head in that direction allowing his headlamp to illuminate the filthy tunnel. Nothing. And then it stepped out from the shadows. Covered in layers of mud soaked robes, its stench was repulsive. There was no mistaking what this was. This was the Troll!

Bug simultaneously felt lightheaded and nauseous. The sweat running down his face stung his eyes as he tried to compose himself. The troll lurched forward. Bug, frozen in fear, did nothing. The troll’s wart-covered hand swung firmly onto Bug’s headset. No escape. The tiny bit of light began to fade.

“Hold on, friend. This is the one you want.” It was Knight. His voice full of authority, steady, yet nonthreatening. “Over here, friend. Have a look for yourself.”

The troll reluctantly loosened his grip on Bug’s Trek and shuffled his way over. Bug breathed through his mouth as the Troll’s stench passed – it was all he could do to prevent vomiting, although he wasn’t sure it would be totally successful either. In the dual beam of both Bug and Knight’s headlamps, Bug was able to clearly distinguish the Trolls features. The first thing he saw was that the Troll was only a man – the most disgusting, crusty, fowl man Bug had ever seen. But still just a man.

“Yes sir, this bicycle is top-of-the-line. You could sell it for a lot of money. Sell it to whomever you wanted. They would love to pay you if you would only sell it them it,” Knight continued as the Troll licked his slimy lips over this prospect.

“You’re gonna give me ‘em all,” the Troll snarled back to him. He grabbed for the bicycle but Knight held steady. The Troll grunted.

“Perhaps. But lets talk about how you can sell this one. You want to sell it, right?”

What the hell was Knight doing? Bug knew they only had two options. They could force their way through the Troll. However, Grimm still laid buried beneath his bike and the extent of his injuries were still unknown. They could give the Troll what he wanted. But that wasn’t an option Bug was willing to entertain. Wait! Knight wasn’t entertaining this either. He wasn’t saying, “sell.” He was saying, “cell.” As in cellphone!

Bug silently reached into his handlebar bag for his cellphone. Nine. One. One. No signal! He gave Knight, still haggling with the Troll, a half shake of his head.

Knight understood. “Lets go outside into the light. Allow you to see these bikes better. We can go right…”

The Troll forcefully interrupted Knight, “No boy! No tricks. Bicycles NOW!” The Troll again tried prying the bike free, but Knight was resolute.

Time was running out, Bug knew. He gave his head a quick turn. Behind him stood an old shopping cart loaded with trash. The height was nearly as tall as Bug. He had an idea. The success would depend on how well the Troll eyes were adjusted to the darkness. Slowly and methodically, Bug removed the headlamp from his head and placed it in the pile of garbage. The beam of light still directed towards Grimm and the Troll. If the Troll looked in this direction, the blinding light would not allow him to see that the third cyclist had slipped away. He then inched his way toward the tunnel exit. Carefully. Quietly. Breathlessly.

The tunnel seemed to stretch forever. After what seemed like an eternity, although it may have been only a few agonizing minutes, he was back under the starry sky. The adrenaline coursing through his body, he fumbled as he punched the numbers into his phone. He barely conveyed their position, not quite sure where he was himself, when the phone went dead. Their location was still remote enough to pick up only a weak cell signal. How long before the police would reach them?

Before having another chance to dial, he heard shouting. The tunnel’s echoing caused the voices to blend together. He dropped the phone, sprinting back into the tunnel, the shouts surrounding him. He had never considered killing a man before but as he raced closer to the voices he scanned for objects that would inflict serious damage. Up ahead there was a flash of colored light.

Red. A fire?

Blue. An electrical charge?

Red, Blue, Red, Blue, Red, Blue…

The alternating lights were now unmistakable. The police! But how did they get there so quickly? It didn’t matter. They were safe.

* * *

Outside the tunnel, the three cyclists, draped in blankets, described their story to the sheriff. The Troll, they found out, was a local drifter who was occasionally seen in the small nearby town panhandling for supplies. Since he would retreat to the old abandoned trail and leave the travelers on the C&O Canal alone, he was left to be. Bug couldn’t help to think how long it would be before this maniac was let free. Probably as soon as they turned the corner.

The EMT was examining Knight’s arm. In the commotion that followed the first light of the police car, the Troll had managed to swipe his arm with a hidden blade. He would not be continuing his journey into DC with the them.

Bug spoke, “How’d you guys get here so quickly? I barely finished my call.”

The Sherriff said, “Well son, we pride ourselves on our response time. But, it took us a good 10 minutes to enter that tunnel after being notified by dispatch.”

Something didn’t quite add up. Bug looked over at Grimm. Grimm reached into his pocket and tossed him his phone. Grinning he said, “next time, try Verizon.”

The light moment did not foretell what lay ahead during their final night on the C&O Canal.

End of Part III.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 29, 2011 4:57 pm

    Now…this is getting thrilling!

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